Hey, DC. Look, I know you really want a shared cinematic universe like Marvel has. It’s obvious that you do. It’s just…well, you are really bad at it. Like, really, really bad at it. (You’re so bad at it that you had to take the word “Green” out of Green Arrow before you’d let it air on television!) But, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Just sit back, relax, and let me do the driving.
Oh, this will require some retconning…but, you’re DC, you do a retcon every other week.
We’ll start with a new Superman:
Superman: Man of Steel would kick off the DC cinematic universe. It wouldn’t be a full-on origin story. At most, recount the basic points of Superman’s origin over the opening credits (Doomed Planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple.). Man of Steel would focus on Superman’s first appearance in Metropolis. Who is he? What is he? The conflict would revolve around Intergang. The resolution would reveal that the villains were funded by Lex Luthor…who does not take kindly to this freak in long underwear messing up his plans.
Batman: Zero reason to bother theatergoers with ANOTHER origin. We know who Batman is. He’s out in Gotham, fighting crime, and actually doing science things on his own (Sorry, Lucius). The first movie ends with the introduction of young Dick Grayson.
Wonder Woman: Hippolyta is the Queen of the Amazons, but also the Themysciran ambassador to the UN. Princess Diana is the head of embassy security. Ares invades the embassy to use it as a portal back to Themyscira, where he will open the Gates of Tartarus and release the Titans to destroy the mortal world. Diana stops him, is rewarded with fancy new armor by the gods, and becomes Wonder Woman. (There’s a longer description here.)
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis: Arthur Curry hates the ocean. This is a bit of a problem when you live in a small Maine fishing community and you’re the adopted son of the owner of the town’s largest fishing company. When Arthur rescues a redheaded stranger calling herself Mera, he suddenly finds himself drawn to the sea. With Mera’s help, Arthur rediscovers his identity and reclaims his rightful place on the throne of Atlantis.
Superman: Man of Tomorrow: A group of LuthorCorp scientists are on an expedition to find a new power source. They come across shards of weird green crystals, while one of the team—Dr. Milton Fine—comes across something far more sinister. Back in Metropolis, Luthor discovers that this new source of power has an interesting effect on Superman and he initiates Project: Metallo. Man of Tomorrow is a standard villain team-up with Brainiac and Metallo.
Justice League: When aliens invade Earth, the planet’s mightiest superheroes come together to save the world. This isn’t going to be The Avengers. This isn’t Batman in his cave saying “Hmm, I need to form a team of heroes to stop this.” No. These folks are heroes. They know that when aliens invade Earth, you stop them. The team-up happens organically. With an audience that’s familiar with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, you’re free to add Green Lantern, Flash, and Martian Manhunter.
Batman and Robin: Jumps forward a bit. Bruce and Dick are the Caped Crusaders. Introduce Barbara Gordon as Batgirl.
Birds of Prey: An interlude, of sorts. Batman and Robin make brief cameos in what is essentially the story of Barbara becoming Oracle and forming the Birds of Prey.
The Sensational Wonder Woman: Diana is still getting used to her position as ambassador. Rumors are spreading that Bialya is amassing troops along its borders. With its neighbors understandably concerned, the UN tries to intercede, only to be stopped at every turn by an increasingly aggressive Bialya ambassador. When Wonder Woman and Donna Troy investigate, they learn that the ruler of Bialya has come under the influence of a sociopathic dwarf calling himself Doctor Psycho.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights: With increasing alien activity in Sector 2814,the Guardians decide that there needs to be a greater Green Lantern presence in the sector. They task Hal Jordan with training two new Lanterns from Earth: Guy Gardner and John Stewart. Jordan has his hands full with the rookie Lanterns, a situation that only gets worse when Sinestro, the greatest Lantern of all time, goes rogue and sets his sights on Earth.
Superman: Last Son of Krypton would be the movie that looks at Clark’s alien heritage. You’ve had two movies to showcase Superman’s ties to, and love of, Earth. This is the one where Zod shows up and tries to ruin it all. How does Zod show up if Krypton was destroyed? A flashback shows us how Zod and his followers were placed in suspended animation and set adrift in space. When Krypton explodes, the prison ship gets caught in the shockwave and eventually ends up in our solar system. (This is where you can establish Power Girl. Superman is able to convince one of Zod’s followers that the Earth needs protecting and she decides to fight with Superman instead of against him.)
Batman: Gotham Knights: Dick has quit and become Nightwing. Batman has a new Robin, Tim Drake. Introduce Stephanie Brown as the new Batgirl. From here, you can pretty much do anything you want in Gotham City: a Nightwing movie, a solo Robin or Batgirl movie, introduce Batwoman, a Birds of Prey sequel.
You can, hopefully, take it from there, DC. It’s not that hard. In fact, I’d say that the DC heroes are more suitable to an ever-expanding cinematic universe than the Marvel heroes are. You have legacy heroes, sidekick after sidekick, the possibilities are endless. Introduce Wonder Girl in the third Wonder Woman movie and Aqualad in an Aquaman sequel and, BOOM! Teen Titans. Make a movie where Green Arrow is more than just Shirtless Murder Batman. Introduce Supergirl and Superboy. Bring the JSA out of retirement. Make an emotional Flash trilogy that gives us the death of Barry, Wally’s decision to become the new Flash, and the introduction of a new Kid Flash.
Oh, and on the television side of things: Batman: Gotham Central and Superman: The Daily Planet. You’ll thank me later. Trust me.